Collage created with Photovisi
An avatar is a very important component of your on-line presence, used to identify you in social networking sites such as blogs, Voicethread, Facebook and Twitter. As an adult, I prefer to use a photograph of myself so people can recognise me, but our students should be using images that represent them, but they cannot be identified from. At the beginning of the school year, it is a fun activity to ask students to create their own avatar and save it, so it can be used throughout the year on different sites. Here are some different ways to create an avatar, which usually need to be resized to about 100 x 100 pixels (you can use the free software “Irfanview” to do this):
Using your own Image:
- Draw a picture of yourself in “MS Paint”, or another simple drawing program such as “Doodle”, and take a screenshot. This one is especially good for primary students.
- Draw, paint or sketch a picture of yourself on paper (or ask a friend to!) and take a photo.
- Use a photo of yourself taken from an unusual angle – your foot, hands or back of your head for example.
- “Be Funky” at can be used to alter a head shot. You can change the contrast, make an etching, convert to black and white, crop and rotate the photo to render the image unidentifiable. “Be Funky” has a huge number of free options, as well as the premium offerings. (Bottom middle)
- “PhotoFunia” is another great site with lots of options to alter your own image. You can become a criminal on a “Wanted” poster, a billboard star or an artist’s model.
Cartoon Avatar Creator Sites:
- “Build Your Wild Self” (bottom right) is a really fun one for young students and animal lovers – you can create avatars with animal parts, like elephant ears, giraffe legs and crocodile tails. I think this is my favourite one to use, but it is Flash-based, so it can’t be used on Touch devices (ipods, iphones and ipads.)
- “WeeMee” for cute cartoons (middle image), but you do need to register with an email address.
- “Doppel Me” for comic representations (top right), again you need to register with an email address.
- Make a Lego avatar (top left) is a good safe and simple to use site for younger students.
- Portrait Illustration Maker is another good, safe site for school students. (bottom right)
- Portrait Icon Maker – Very similar to the above – safe, free and suitable for students.
- Simpson’s Character Creator – Fun, but students need to sign up and agree to advertising.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid avatar creator – For fans of the book – Go Wimp Yourself!
- Picassohead – Very artisitic, easy to use and safe for students.
- Create your own Superhero – safe and good for middle to senior school students (need to register and sign in).
- The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge has a more comprehensive list (including some of the above sites).
To make this a more meaningful activity for students, ask them to create two or more avatars, using different methods and then review the products and processes. Which avatar do they like best and why? Which site or process did they enjoy using the most and why? Which do they think would be the best for junior primary/middle years/senior school students and why?